Dr Mahathir Mohmad watching Munir writing his name in Jawi as Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Hasmah look on. Starpic by Azhar Mahfof

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is unique because its multiracial population can come together to celebrate cultural diversity in peace, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said Malaysians respected each other’s customs despite cultural, racial, and tribal differences.

“We celebrate as good Malaysians. There is no politics here, ” he told newsmen at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall’s (KLSCAH) Chinese New Year open house Saturday (Jan 25).

It was the second time in 37 years that Dr Mahathir has attended a KLSCAH event.

He first stepped foot into KLSCAH premises in 1983 to open the inaugural Tiong Hua Festival in his first tenure as prime minister.

Dr Mahathir, who returned as Prime Minister after Pakatan Harapan won the 14th General Election in 2018, was pleasantly surprised when asked to add his handwritten signature to a digitally reproduced and enlarged photograph of him opening the Tiong Hua Festival 37 years ago.

KLSCAH chairman Datuk Ong Seng Khek said it was the first time a premier had attended their CNY open house.

KLSCAH, established 97 years ago, has 434 Chinese-based organisations under its wing.

Ong said they were proud of Dr Mahathir for spearheading the fight against corruption.

“As a result, Malaysia moved up 10 spots to the 51st place among 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index 2019, ” he said.

Among those present at the KLSCAH event were the premier’s wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, and Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.

The event also saw calligraphy experts and artists of different races coming together to write Happy Chinese New Year in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, and in the Jawi script.

These included Chinese calligraphy master Cheah Thien Soong, Jawi calligraphy expert Munir Nazir, photographer and artist A. Nimalesh, Oriental Art, Cultural Centre honorary director Chin Yuen Seam, and retired teacher Ishak Surin.

The guests of various races asked Munir to write their names in Jawi.

“I am happy. I came to show that the writing in Jawi is an art. And the response was overwhelming.

“And I am glad that many appreciate the art, ” said Munir, who showed that English words could also be written in Jawi.

Cheah said it was a pleasure sharing the art of calligraphy in various forms and languages on the same canvas to deliver a Happy Chinese New Year message.

Cheah also presented Dr Mahathir his artwork bearing the message “The Nation is Prosperous and the People are Strong and Powerful”.

To Dr Wan Azizah, he gave his piece written in the ancient pictograph format bearing the message “Blessings for All”.

Chin also used the ancient Chinese pictograph to write “The Return of Spring”.

“This form of seal style pictograph was created more than 3,000 years ago, ” she said.

Carmen Chan impressed the guests, especially the children, with her tiny Chinese dolls made of flour.

“I am reviving an old tradition where children were kept entertained with the art of making dolls using dough.

“This tradition went extinct about 200 years ago. I am trying to rekindle interest in the old tradition, ” she said.

Retrieved from The Star

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